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Duffy on bi-partisan Obamacare deal: 'What kind of reform do we get?'Submitted: 10/19/2017
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com

Duffy on bi-partisan Obamacare deal: 'What kind of reform do we get?'
CRANDON - Terri Burl wanted to ask more questions than make comments during Congressman Sean Duffy's town hall in Crandon on Thursday.

"Everybody's in the state of the unknown right now," Burl said.

Burl, a Republican, was thinking of her 26-year-old son in Oshkosh as she asked Duffy (R-Wausau) about health care concerns.  She worries about tax penalties for her uninsured son and the GOP's lack of solid ideas to replace the Affordable Care Act.


"They kept saying, 'We have a plan, we have a plan, all we need is a president who will sign,'" Burl said. "Well, so we have a president who will sign a bill and suddenly they don't have a plan."

Burl's anger seems to have hit the White House, too. This month, President Trump announced he would end the approximately $7 billion payments the government makes to exchanges to keep premiums down. Duffy says Trump -- like Barack Obama -- doesn't have the authority to spend the money in the first place, noting it's Congress that should deal with finances.

"That frustration, I think is boiling right now," Duffy told Newswatch 12 after the Crandon town hall.

Duffy says a bi-partisan deal from Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Patty Murray (D-Washington) to extend those payments another two years could work, but there needs to be a trade-off. Duffy wants to get rid of the ACA's insurance requirement for individuals and businesses. He'd also like to send money directly to states in the form of block grants.

"We're different in Wisconsin than people in California or New York or Mississippi, so let us do our own thing," Duffy said. "If you do that, I think we'll be pretty close to a deal."

That kind of deal is one the left-leaning group Citizen Action of Wisconsin would at least listen to.

"Obviously we differ on the block grant idea, I'm not a big fan of that and neither are the members of Citizen Action of Wisconsin," organizer Joel Lewis said. "However, I do agree that the state has the ability to stop the pain from the federal government and Trump's recent executive orders."

Lewis says premiums for people in Rhinelander on exchanges will jump 55-percent in 2018. Lewis points to numbers on the Citizen Action of Wisconsin website that show BadgerCare public-option premiums would cost people 6-percent less than exchanges. He thinks allowing that public option in Wisconsin would save people hundreds of dollars.

"This isn't the working poor that's going to be affected," Lewis said. "This is the upper-middle class and in many cases the folks that voted for Trump."

As the president continues to bounce back and forth between supporting the bi-partisan deal, (Trump went from supporting the deal this week to saying, "I am not going to do anything to enrich the insurance companies.") Duffy is hopeful, but not necessarily confident a deal can be reached.

"If this is a very skinny deal on reform, but large payments to the Obamacare exchanges, I don't think that's going to fly," Duffy said.

Duffy also talked about tax reform on Thursday. He says it's a much simpler fix than Obamacare and doesn't expect any action on health care until after January 1, 2018, despite Alexander saying he expects the bill to become law before year's end.

Duffy held town halls in Eagle River, Crandon, and Florence on Thursday.  He'll be in Ladysmith and Grantsburg on Friday.


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MOLE LAKE - On Monday night, roughly 100 people went round and round on what to do about a violent sex offender being placed in their community. That conversation continued Tuesday in Mole Lake with Forest County Sheriff John Dennee.

Jeffrey LeVasseur is set to move in off Sand Lake Rd. on Thursday. He was convicted of assaulting two children in Forest County about 20 years ago.

One of the biggest issues people in both meetings have is the fact they never got informed he would be moving in.

"He has more rights than we have. We are the people who live here, we have no rights because a committee says he's gotta stay here," said one woman at Tuesday's meeting.

Dennee isn't happy about the situation either.

"This is bull****," said Sheriff Dennee. 

Though LeVasseur will move soon, the town of Nashville never received an official notification.

Dennee told community members Tuesday that the Department of Health Services was supposed to send out a notice, but that DHS now claims it was supposed to be the county's job.

"They sent the notices out before, why didn't they do it this time? That's been my argument," said Dennee. "Because I think that matters and that needs to be said." 
 
People asked the sheriff if filing an emergency injunction would help to stop the placement from happening.

"It is possible, is it probable? I don't know," said Dennee. "But I think it's possible and I think if you have attorneys in the town… and I think Chris has some things going, yeah, try it, do it." 

Dennee said if LeVasseur's placement goes through he did ask the court to fit him with an extra tracking monitor.

The Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa Tribe hired attorneys and planned to file an emergency injunction on Tuesday to temporarily stop the placement.

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RHINELANDER - In two weeks people will vote on whether they want Leah Vukmir or Sen. Tammy Baldwin in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Baldwin visited the Rhinelander Cafe and Pub Tuesday to campaign for the Nov. 6 election. 

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RHINELANDER - Rhinelander High School students involved with two leadership groups, the Future Business Leaders of America and DECA, collect canned food rather than candy to celebrate Halloween every year.

This year's edition of the so-called 'Trick or Can' collections have been going on for a week.

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RHINELANDER - More and more people want to get into the holiday spirit now that Halloween is just around the corner. This year, that even includes Rhinelander's Hodag.

On Monday, the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce made a Facebook post asking what the Hodag's costume should be for Halloween this year.

After receiving a good response, the chamber has decided it will pick one of the suggestions and dress the giant statue.

"I prefer to think of the kind of goofy and lovable side of him, some people like the scarier side," said Event and Program Coordinator Evan Verploegh. "But I think he's just funny and we should take advantage of this personality we've kind of built for him."

The chamber is looking for ideas that will look good on the Hodag, but will also be feasible to do. 

"Anybody who has any sort of experience making Halloween costumes or anything potentially on this scale on Monday and Tuesday I think we're going to be working," said Verploegh. 
 
If you'd be interested in helping dress up the Hodag just send the chamber an email or give it a call. 

People can comment costume ideas on the Facebook post or email their ideas to the chamber. They plan to make a final decision by noon on Friday.

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Police Department added a new K9 to the force.

Rhinelander officer Chad Brown is the police dog's handler.

"It almost didn't seem like it was real… When the police chief let me know I had the position…because I had been waiting for so long," said Brown. "I was just drawn to Odin. I just had to bond with him."

Odin was trained in multiple skills to help Brown keep the community safe. But it takes a lot of work to sharpen all those skills.


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MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker's latest campaign ad saying that Democrat Tony Evers wants "special treatment for illegals" is being decried as racist and an act of desperation.

The Republican Walker released the latest ad Tuesday, exactly two weeks before the election. It's based on comments made by the Democratic Evers during a debate with Walker on Friday.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/23/2018

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:


We'll show you some of what happened on day 2 of the trial for Ellen Tran of Rhinelander who is charged with first-degree reckless homicide in connection with the death of her stepson at that time.

And we take you to a community meeting involving residents who are unhappy with the possibility of a violent sex offender being placed in the Crandon/Mole Lake area.


We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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